Mercedes-Benz is notorious for introducing high-performance AMG editions of its passenger cars, and the CL-Class is no exception. A supercharged V-8 became available in the CL55 AMG for 2003. Mercedes-Benz is offering an even hotter CL65 AMG with a 604-horsepower twin-turbo V-12 for the 2005 model year.
Equipped with Active Body Control and special AMG spring struts with firmer damping, the CL65 AMG is one of four versions of the rear-wheel-drive CL-Class. The CL-Class is a two-door equivalent to the German automaker's high-end S-Class sedan.
For 2004, the CL500 got a seven-speed-automatic transmission, which replaced the prior five-speed unit. A DVD navigation system and MP3 player were added, and 18-inch wheels could be installed. Options include Distronic Adaptive Cruise Control, which adjusts speed automatically to maintain a preset distance behind the vehicle ahead.
The coupe's styling themes echo the appearance of the S-Class sedan. Flowing fenders, four oval headlights, a wraparound back window and a smaller sloped grille that displays the familiar three-pointed-star emblem help give the CL-Class a personality all its own. Befitting its lofty-performance status, the CL55 AMG coupe has aerodynamic body trim, a firmer suspension and 18-inch wheels. The new CL65 AMG features high-performance brakes and rolls on 19-inch twin-spoke wheels.
All CL-Class coupes have Active Body Control, which is an active suspension system that continuously adjusts firmness to eliminate body roll and pitch during cornering, acceleration and braking. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights include washers. A power moonroof is standard.
The CL-Class accommodates up to four occupants and has bucketlike rear seats. The CL600 has unique Nappa leather upholstery and either burl walnut or chestnut interior trim.
A standard satellite-based navigation system has a touchscreen integrated into the dashboard. An SOS button for automatic emergency calling is tied to the Tele Aid system. A Bose audio system is installed.
Under the Hood
Four engines are available. A 302-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 goes into the CL500. The CL600 employs a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-12 that generates 493 hp and 590 pounds-feet of torque. A 493-hp, supercharged 5.5-liter V-8 powers the CL55 AMG, and the new CL65 AMG holds a 604-hp, twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12 that generates a whopping 738 pounds-feet of torque. The CL500 has a seven-speed-automatic transmission with Touch Shift manual control. Other models have a five-speed-automatic transmission that permits manually selected gear changes. The CL55 AMG and CL65 AMG are equipped with a SpeedShift provision.
Door-mounted side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain-type airbags that deploy from above the side windows, and side-impact airbags that protect the torsos of backseat occupants are standard. The front passenger's airbag deploys at one of two levels. Antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are standard.